Fishing vessel remains partially submerged near Unalaska, fuel onboard

Benjamin S. Brasch
A swell washes over the railing of the F/V Arctic Hunter which ran aground early Friday morning, Nov. 1, 2013, 6 miles off of Dutch Harbor near Split Top Mountain, causing the six member crew to abandon ship. Magone Marine is currently removing 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the vessel which is now 80 percent submerged.
Photo courtesy of Dan Magone
Waves crash over the submerged 102-foot crab and scallop fishing vessel Arctic Hunter which ran aground on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, about six miles from Dutch Harbor. The six crew members abandoned ship and were rescued by other vessels. Magone Marine is in the process of lightening about 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the vessel.
Photo courtesy Butch Aus
Magone Marine is lightering the 7,000 remaining gallons of diesel fuel from the F/V vessel Arctic Hunter which ran aground early Friday morning, Nov. 1, 2013, causing the six member crew to abandon ship.
Photo courtesy of Dan Magone
Magone Marine is lightering the 7,000 remaining gallons of diesel fuel from the F/V vessel Arctic Hunter which ran aground early Friday morning, Nov. 1, 2013, causing the six member crew to abandon ship.
Photo courtesy of Dan Magone

A 102-foot crab and scallop fishing vessel that ran aground Friday off Unalaska Island remains partially submerged outside of Morris Cove with an estimated 2,500 to 2,800 gallons of fuel and water still onboard, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The Coast Guard heard around 4 a.m. on Friday that the Arctic Hunter had grounded northeast of Unalaska in Summer Bay, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Shawn Eggert.

As of Tuesday morning, 80 percent of the vessel was underwater, he said. A fly over by the Coast Guard did not reveal any sheen or obvious signs of a fuel leakage. But, Eggert noted that things could change with the huge storm moving across the Bering Sea.

Choppy waters Tuesday barred Magone Marine, the contractor in charge of fuel removal, from returning to the scene to take out additional fuel, Eggert said.

The high seas complicated efforts over the weekend and pushed water into the vessel's tanks, while the contractor tried to take fuel out, said Dan Magone, president of Magone Marine. The company removed 10,000 gallons of liquid by Monday, but only 5,000 gallons of that was fuel, he said.

Peggy McLaughlin, port director for the City of Unalaska, said the two-man fishing crew of the Saga rescued the six crew members aboard the Arctic Hunter near Split Top Mountain at 5:15 a.m. on Friday, with two other vessels standing by for assistance.

She said the men were wearing survival suits and in a life raft when the Saga picked them up.

A Coast Guard helicopter was sent to rescue the crew, but the other vessels were already on the scene by the time it arrived, Eggert said.

The captain, whose name the Coast Guard isn't releasing due to the ongoing investigation, told Unalaska Police that he had fallen asleep at the wheel, Eggert said. His blood alcohol content was over the legal limit of .08, Eggert said.

Police found that the captain's blood alcohol content was .086, said Jamie Sunderland, director of public safety for the City of Unalaska. The legal limit for operating a vessel is .08.

The Coast Guard asked Unalaska police to test the captain's blood alcohol content on the vessel using a portable breath test, said Jamie Sunderland, director of public safety for the City of Unalaska.

Eggert said the captain told officers that he had a beer after the ship ran aground, and that police and the Coast Guard are investigating the incident.

Reporter Tegan Hanlon contributed. Reach Benjamin Brasch at bbrasch@adn.com or 257-4349. Twitter: twitter.com/ben_brasch

 


By BENJAMIN S. BRASCH
bbrasch@adn.com